Tuesday 28 August 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council




[11.31 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, you would not think a small state like ours with a population of fewer than 520 000 would have such a renowned dance company as Tasdance.  Since it was founded in Launceston in 1981, the company has made more than 150 new dance works by 80 choreographers, making it one of the most influential organisations in the development of contemporary dance choreography in Australia.  The company has a very rich history in dance education and nurturing new choreographers, new dancers and, dare I say, the next generation of Australian dancers.  Dance education in Tasmania will continue to be a key focus.

The aim, back in 1981, was to make the company Australia's first official dancing education company commissioned to take contemporary dance into schools through conducting workshops and performances.  It first operated, I remember clearly, with a very small ensemble of dancers and teachers who performed and worked with school students and staff delivering one of the key goals of arts funding, which is to create access to the arts.

The arts director who, perhaps, did most to consolidate Tasdance's role was Jenny Kinder.  She served us from Tasdance's establishment in 1981 through to 1994.  I had a good relationship with Jenny.  I remember when I was chairman of the fundraising committee for the establishment of the Earl Arts Centre, I went to Jenny for her support as head of our community's professional dance company.  She asked me if the centre would have a sprung floor and I said, 'Oh, yes, it will have a sprung floor.'  I thought, 'Where am I going to get one of those from?'  She looked at me and asked how long I thought it would take to raise the money and I said it would be inside two years.  Her eyebrows were raised, thinking these amateurs are not going to achieve that.  I am pleased to say we were building the Earl Arts Centre within 18 months.

Ms Rattray - I would like you on my campaign team.

Mr FINCH - It is possible.

Ms Rattray - At a price.

Mr FINCH - At a price.  If you look at the aims of Tasdance on its website, you will see that they want to contribute to the development of contemporary dance nationally; be a vital and successful, regionally based full-time professional dance company; contribute to professional development and education in dance; take a leading role in audience development with particular emphasis on regional Australia; and develop international partners and collaborators for Tasdance's very unique program mix.  It continues to do that and even more.

After Jenny Kinder's formative role, the company had four inspiring artistic directors - Karen Pearlman, Richard James Allen, Annie Greig and, from 2015 to now, Felicity Bott.  As of last week, there is a new one - local, Launceston-born, Adam Wheeler, who was introduced to dance through Tasdance many years ago. 

When Adam's appointment was confirmed last week, a new management board was also announced.  It consists of seven dedicated and highly qualified professionals with experience across not-for-profit governance, law, accounting, education and the arts.  The new board continues to guide the organisation.  It will give both the new artistic director, Adam Wheeler (tbc), and general manager, Alison Copley, support in the creation and delivery of a very rich artistic program.  The keys to its continuing success are the Friends of Tasdance, who are dedicated to supporting the many artists who connect with Tasdance.  They ensure every visiting artist to Tasmania is met with the true values that make Tasmania's artistic community great.  Tasmanian artists always feel welcome and supported and in turn have the capacity to create great art here.

Tasdance will continue to be a centre for the dynamic and courageous making of new contemporary dance works, while being a vibrant and inclusive part of the Tasmanian community.  Who would have thought such a small state like Tasmania would have such an influential dance company?